by Dax-Devlon Ross
Faithful Boardwalk Empire viewers are familiar with the story line: violence, corruption and greed in a Prohibition era port city. One of the subconflicts to emerge this season centers around the series’ lone black lead, Chalky White (played by Michael Kenneth Williams) and the show’s centerpiece, the ever duplicitous Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi). They are, in a sense, business partners. Nucky supplies Chalky with access to liquor and protection; Chalky supplies Nucky with easy access to the black electorate. As season 2 begins, White, the de facto Mayor of black Atlantic City, and his bootlegging associates are ambushed by the KKK. Chalky is effectively put out of business, though not before fatally shooting a Klansman, which in turn incites a mob of angry whites to seek revenge. In order to protect his associate and/or his interests, Nucky is forced to arrange Chalky’s arrest. Once released, Nucky prevails upon an enraged and humiliated Chalky to lay low. Nucky can’t be bothered to explain the finer details to Chalky but nonetheless expects his loyalty and trust. Chalky senses Nucky’s insincerity and resents his paternalism, but restrains himself — for the time being at least — because Nucky is his meal ticket and Nucky has the power to dispose of him at his leisure.
I thought about the Chalky-Nucky dilemma after speaking with three African-American friends who, on separate occasions, made essentially the same appraisal of Occupy Wall Street: ‘No, thank you. It’s not my fight.’ Read the rest of this entry »